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Gwadar’s fate should be decided by Balochistan, says Mengal

Gwadar’s fate should be decided by Balochistan, says Mengal

QUETTA: Balochistan National Party-M chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal has urged the federal government to allow Balochistan and its people to make important decisions about different projects in Gwadar and vowed to “resist every move against the interests of Baloch people”.

Speaking at a public meeting at Shahwani Stadium in Sariab area here on Sunday, he said that any project harmful to the people’s interests would be opposed.

People from different areas of the province had reached the stadium in convoys. The venue of the public gathering and roads leading to it were decorated with the BNP-M flags and banners inscribed with slogans.

Mr Mengal said his party would not accept any development project which could turn the majority of Balochistan’s people into a minority.

He said he was ready to support the government if it empowered Baloch people to make decisions about their resources and coast. He said his party wanted to see an educated and prosperous Balochistan and added, “We believe in a peaceful struggle because issues will never be resolved through the use of force.”

He said he had read the agreements on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and found that the project offered nothing to Balochistan. “All they are doing is to build a modern Punjab, provide it more facilities and boost its economy.”

The BNP-M leader said that the government had not even bothered to allocate funds for providing drinking water in Gwadar. “In a couple of years, people of the town will be importing water.”

The situation reflects the mindset and planning of the federal government and Chinese investors, he said.

He alleged that an ethnic party was helping Afghan refugees to obtain Pakistan’s national identity cards and, in the process, making a lot of money. But the party would never be able to turn Baloch people into a minority in the province, he added.

“Pakhtun and Baloch are brotherly nations and have been peacefully living together since ages but the ethnic party is blackmailing people by fuelling hatred.”

Mr Mengal said that a large number of local Pakhtun people had been compelled to leave Quetta and move to Karachi because of influx of Afghan refugees.

“We will not accept any census in the presence of illegal Afghan immigrants who have managed to obtain the national identity cards. They own businesses and tall buildings and have even been elected councillors in recent local bodies’ elections,” he said.

Referring to the presence of a large number of people in the rally, he said it had sent a clear message to those forces who wanted to suppress the BNP-M’s voice. “We have cleared the clouds of fear by holding such a big public meeting,” he said. He said that former president Gen Pervez Musharraf could not succeed to weaken the BNP-M despite victimising its leaders and workers.

About the 2013 general elections, he said the polls had been engineered by the establishment which brought people of its choice to assemblies, depriving “real public representatives” of an opportunity to rule the province.

Mr Mengal alleged that Balochistan had always been treated as a “colony” since 1947 and people had been handpicked to rule the province. “Such leaders have always protected their own interests at the cost of the interests of common people.”

Published in Dawn, September 21st , 2015

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